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We highlight success stories from our community to share that our readers were indeed able to follow tips, tricks, and advice from our blog and redeem their miles in the best ways possible. We understand that everyone travels differently and each traveler is unique and has specific requirements – nevertheless, the concepts talked about on the blog and details provided apply to a wide range of travel patterns; you’re able to apply them in many scenarios. As always, the most value for your miles will be found in First and Business Class tickets – be sure to share your success story with us for a chance to be featured.

Collecting Miles and Points

Lydia and her husband were keen on visiting France and Spain, flying Business Class in mid-October as shoulder seasons in Europe are generally more pleasant – especially in terms of the number of tourists, early autumn is definitely a great time to visit and some places can still be relatively warm and very enjoyable.

Lydia was planning around a two week trip and she had a great amount of flexibility and had been collecting points for quite a while now. She knew that she would be in the best position to book award tickets if she was collecting points in a flexible bank points program, which is exactly why she ended up with these amounts a few months prior to her trip:

  • 283,000 American Express Membership Rewards
  • 192,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 108,000 British Airways Avios

She mainly collected AMEX and Chase points knowing that they provide the greatest flexibility when it comes time to book – because they can be transferred to any partner whenever you’d like and some airline partners have better availability than others. She also opened a British Airways card in hopes of using those points for short flights within Europe and positioning flights within North America (if needed).

Planning a Trip to France & Spain

When Lydia reached a decent amount of miles and points, she knew it was time to start looking and booking. Lydia has been reading our blog for quite a while now and knows to ask some key questions when planning a trip:

  • do any sweet spots exist that I can take advantage of on my trip?
  • can I fly into another major city should there be better award availability?
  • are there any transfer bonuses at the moment that will work in my favor?
  • are there any airlines offering award ticket sales or promotions?
  • which airlines should I prioritize if I want to get better-than-average service?
  • which frequent flyer program is the best to book through in my case?

The list can go on and on, but some of those important points mentioned above are featured in several of our articles.

Success Story: Business Class to France for 37k Miles

Lydia started with the two, more important key points:

  • what sweet spots can I use on my trip
  • are there any transfer bonuses available

She took a look at her points accounts with each bank and noticed a few transfer bonuses:

  • Chase -> Aeroplan 20% bonus
  • AMEX -> Virgin Atlantic 30% bonus

Lydia was keen on using one of those bonuses to stretch her miles further. She took a look at availability on Star Alliance through Air Canada Aeroplan, but didn’t find that many good options for her desired dates of travel (and she also didn’t want to fly a U.S. airline knowing their standards are way lower).

Looking at award availability through Virgin Atlantic, Lydia played around with a few dates and eventually found 2 seats in Air France Business Class from New York JFK to Paris CDG for 48,500 points + ~$280 per person, which is already a great deal considering the mileage requirement. She immediately took advantage of this find and transferred points to book this flight as follows:

  • AMEX -> Virgin Atlantic: 75,000 points transferred + 30% transfer bonus = 97,500 miles in Virgin Atlantic, enough for two tickets

At just 37.5k AMEX points for a one-way Business Class ticket to Europe, this is a phenomenal redemption and best of all, Lydia didn’t need to position herself anywhere since she lives in New York.

Booking Flights from France to Spain

The intra-European flights were fairly easy to book with Lydia’s British Airways Avios – she simply redeemed them for an Iberia flight from Paris to Madrid in Economy Class. The cost was 7,500 points + ~$40 per person in Economy Class. She could have booked a low-cost airline for around $120 (which still isn’t cheap), but hearing all of the horror stories, she decided it would be better if they flew a traditional airline.

Success Story: Returning Home in Business Class for 50k Miles

Following the same steps as she did for the outbound flight in order to find award availability, Lydia initially didn’t find anything decent that worked for their desired dates of travel. Since she was booking a few months in advance, she decided to book the initial outbound flights she found and wait a bit to see if anything better opened for the return.

Two weeks passed, and Lydia was able to locate a flight with TAP Air Portugal from Madrid to Lisbon to New York in Business Class for only 60,000 Aeroplan miles + ~$120 per person. Thankfully the Chase transfer bonus was still going on and Lydia transferred the points to book this flight as follows:

  • Chase -> Aeroplan: 100,000 points transferred + 20% transfer bonus = 120,000 miles in Aeroplan, enough for two tickets

While this deal wasn’t as incredible as the outbound, flying Business Class for 50k miles and minimal taxes and fees to/from Europe is a great deal. If she had booked the same flight using United miles, for example, the price was 88k miles per person – insane!

All in All

We are incredibly happy that our readers are constantly able to get great value from our blog – stories like this put a big smile on our face because it means that the miles and points game is alive and well, no matter how things are constantly changing. We are thrilled that our articles and advice is brought to life through your travels – our readers have taken some creative approaches to applying the concepts they learned here throughout their travels and we couldn’t be more happy. If you have a success story of your own, be sure to share it with us and you could be featured!

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.